How to listen to audiobooks on Google Home
While Google has worked to quickly close the gap between Google Home ($99 at Walmart) and Alexa, there was one major multimedia box that Google hadn’t ticked yet: audiobooks. Until Tuesday, that is.
Alongside, movies, TV, magazine subscriptions, books, Android apps and music, Google just added audiobooks to Google Play. You’ll find these audiobooks under the Books section, and they’re available now in 45 countries and nine languages. Unlike Amazon’s subscription approach to audiobooks with Audible, Google is simply selling audiobooks outright — they must be purchased, but they’ll be added to your account and can be shared with family members who you add to your Family Library. For the launch, Google has also slashed the price of many titles and (for a limited time) is offering a 50-percent-off coupon for your first audiobook purchase.
But the importance of audiobooks in Google Play is that you no longer have to cast or stream audiobooks over Bluetooth to listen to them on your Google Home speaker. Audiobooks from Google Play are available on Android and iOS devices (through the Google Play Books app), the web and most devices that support Google Assistant. (Audiobooks work in Google Assistant on Android phones, but not on iOS devices for now, and support for Android Auto is coming.)
This means you can listen to audiobooks on all your devices and seamlessly switch between them. You can go from listening to a book at home through Chromecast ($40 at eBay) on the living room TV, pick up from your phone or car on your commute to work and listen to it on your bedroom Google Home speaker without ever losing your place or skipping a beat.
To start listening to an audiobook on Google Home, you must first purchase a title. You’ll have to do this at play.google.com or within the Google Play Books app. Also, make sure you purchase it from the correct account.
Here’s everything the Google Home can do
Once you have an audiobook in your library, here are some of the commands you can use:
- Play the most recently listened to audiobook: “OK, Google, read my book.”
- Request a specific audiobook: “OK, Google, read [book title].”
- Change chapters: “OK, Google, previous/next chapter.”
- Check how much time is remaining: “OK, Google, how much time is left?”
- Find out who the author is: “OK, Google, who wrote this?”
- Listen to the audiobook on another device: “OK, Google, read my book on [Chromecast name].”
Play controls for other playback features, such as music or podcasts, work the same for audiobooks.
- Play or pause: “OK, Google, resume/continue/pause.”
- Stop: “OK, Google, stop.”
- Set a sleep timer: “OK, Google, stop in 30 minutes.”
- Skip ahead: “OK, Google, skip ahead 10 minutes/seconds.”
- Go back: “OK, Google, go back 10 minutes/seconds.”
Unfortunately, through Google Home and voice commands, it’s not possible to change the playback speed. However, you can use the Google Play Books app from iOS or an Android device to cast the book to your Google Home speaker and choose from 0.5x to 2x playback speed, as well as select a specific chapter to play.
5 Best Places to Download Free Audiobooks
- You can listen to specific chapters without having to download all of them
- Several ways to find a specific audiobook
- Lets you receive new audiobooks by podcast
- Available in many languages
- Works on mobile devices
- Can’t sort audiobooks by most popular
LibriVox has a huge selection of free audiobooks that are recordings of volunteers who have read chapters from books that are in the public domain. You can find a free audiobook by searching by title, author, genre/subject, or language. You can also browse all the titles in the catalogue, view only the most recent audiobooks, and subscribe to new releases as podcasts.
Once you reach a book’s description page, you can read more about it and even listen to the chapters individually without having to download each of them. However, if you do want to download the whole audiobook, every chapter included, you can do so in a ZIP file, directly from LibriVox. Some are also available through a torrent and M4B file. LibriVox is also available for iOS here, and Android devices here, so that you can download audiobooks to your phone or tablet, or stream them on the go.
What We Like
- There’s a huge selection of audiobooks
- Get two audiobooks completely free
- The audiobooks are yours to keep forever
- Listen to your audiobooks from a mobile device or computer
- The trial period is only one month long
- Limits you to just two audiobook downloads
- Must pay monthly after the trial to keep downloading audiobooks
- Audible has a 30-day free trial going which means that you can download any audio book of your choice, plus any two Audible originals, for free during that time.
- Audible has a great selection of audio books and you’ll be able to find just about any audiobook you are looking for, including bestsellers and new releases.
After the 30 day trial, you can get one book each month for $14.95 /month, no matter the price of the book.
3. Rakuten OverDrive
- Lets you borrow audiobooks free from your local library
- Works with tens of thousands of libraries
- You can listen from a computer or the mobile app
- Includes free audiobooks samples
- Must have a library card from a supported library
If your local library has a subscription to OverDrive (check here) then this is a great place to find free audio book downloads of recent fiction and non-fiction books, including best-sellers. You’ll check out these audio books just like you would a library book and they’ll be returned at the end of the loan period. You can even do it all from Libby, the mobile app for iOS and Android. Besides free audiobooks, OverDrive also has free eBooks, movies, and music.
- Has thousands of free audiobook downloads
- Several sorting options for finding the perfect audiobook
- Lets you filter the audiobook downloads by certain criteria
- Usually, multiple audio format options when downloading
- Can be downloaded in bulk or by individual chapter
- Many audiobooks are poorly named and hard to recognize at first glance
- There aren’t many non-English audiobook downloads
The Internet Archive also has a ton of free audio book downloads that you can browse through by subject, keywords, or using the search box. There are around 18,000 results for audio books and poetry on this website. My favorite way to find free audio books at Internet Archive is by sorting the books by view count to find the most popular audio books.
Popular audio books here include The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, The Swiss Family Robinson, Moby Dick, The Art of War, and Dracula. Some are available in multiple formats so that you can download an audio book in the MP3 or OGG format, for example. Mind Webs is another part of Internet Archive that has several dozen classic sci-fi audio books.
5. L oyal Books
- Multiple language options
- Makes finding the top 100 audiobooks easy
- Audiobooks are organized in several genres
- Thousands of free audiobooks
- Few sorting options
It’s easy to use Loyal Books (previously called Books Should Be Free) to download free audio books. You can view the audio books by the language, the top 100, and by genre like Children, Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and more than a dozen others. You can listen to these books on the Loyal Books website, download MP3s of the chapters altogether at once in one ZIP file, download the whole audiobook in one M4B file for iPhones and iPods, save specific chapters only, stream from your Android with this app or iPhone/iPad via the iOS app, and even get the audio book through an RSS reader.
These are public domain books, so you might not see anything here that differs from the other public domain audio book websites we’ve already mentioned.